Police in the Eighties

Well, now that Margaret Bazley's report has finally come out its not surprising that what we have known about a few cops goes a lot deeper into the sexism, misogyny and 'power over' tactics of police culture in the eighties. It mirrors what has happened to Maori and Pacific Island people at the hands of police also...(see full report at www.cipc.govt.nz) or press release at http://www.stuff.co.nz/4015111a10.html

American feminist Adriene Rich talked about the collussion through silence of abuse in our society in her book, 'On Lies, Secrets & Silence ' in which she says:

"The liar has many friends, and leads an existence of great loneliness..."

This is the tip of the iceberg...the eighties was a period in our social history where cops were disempowered by the power of the people, the Springbok tour, the rise of feminism and the Maori renaiisance influenced peoples perception and knowledge of social power dynamics, class consciousness within a New Zealnd context.

In some ways, the police had never faced such criticism or been so exposed as bullies, or enemies of 'the people', the perception of the NZ copy as the friendly bobby was more prevalent...as long as you'd never come up against them personally you probably would have believed it was still true...

I don't envy the job of cops, telling people difficult news about family memgers or friends, picking up the pieces at car accidents or natural disasters....but at the same time, there was obviously a cutlure of inhouse behaviour that was accepted and those that remained silent were colluding in the behaviour continuing, just like incest, domestic violence and other forms of psychological and sexual abuse behind closed doors...

In Rotorua in particular, some cops regained their sense of authority by having power over women who were not just vulnerable, but naieve, ...offering private parties, alcohol and no doubt other things that were seen as 'perks of the job'....

I feel sorry for the women not only for the women who have been in relationships with these guys all these years and the hell they have had to put up with personally, and probably more now through their association with them. It's not easy to forgive a perpetrator of violence, but domestic violence is a recurring theme with women staying with 'the devil they know'....life is full of contradictions and these 'pillars of the community' in uniform, are one of them.

The women who have come forward have started something, not only for themselves but for all the women who have been in situations where they feel the power has shifted...and the result is often not what had been intended....but can create real change once people begin to speak about the truth that lies beneath....

Kia kaha

Clare

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